Retro Pugs 101: Is It The Right Breed For You?

retro pugs cover

Pugs are wonderful dogs – loving, loyal, and happy.

However, years of breeding for ever more extreme brachycephaly (the smushed in face) has caused some real health problems in the breed.

Retro Pugs have a longer snout and are able to breathe better. These long-nosed pugs do not have as many health problems.

Let’s find out everything you need to know about the Retro Pugs.

What is A Retro Pug?

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A Retro Pug is a purebred Pug bred with a Jack Russell Terrier.

This produces a dog that has a longer snout, allowing it to breathe easier and better regulate its temperature in extreme cold or heat.

Retro Pugs are healthier and more energetic than regular Pugs. However, there is more variation in size and appearance with the retro Pug.

Here is a summary of important facts for the retro Pug:

  • Size: 9-15 inches
  • Coat: Short and smooth
  • Exercise: Depends on facial characteristics, more than Pugs
  • Weight: 13-18 pounds
  • Lifespan: 16 years
  • Other names: retro Mops, Jug dog
  • Temperament: friendly, loving, loyal, confident
  • Good with children: Yes
  • Good with pets: Can be a scrapper, socialization is important
  • Breed: Toy breed (considered a mixed breed dog by American Kennel Club and other kennel clubs, can’t be shown in confirmation)

Retro Pugs are very similar to regular pugs. They have longer snouts, larger ears, and are taller and thinner than Pugs.

Their color is usually fawn, but it is a bit darker than Pugs, with more black around the face and along their backs.

The longer snout means that the eyes do not bulge so much.

Retro Pugs also have fewer problems with their teeth.  Their tails may be less curled than standard Pugs.

Why Retro Pugs Came About

Pugs are an old breed. They were bred in ancient China but were guarded fiercely by the royal family.

It was only in the sixteenth century that Pugs made it to Europe. They became a favorite of the royal family in the Netherlands and other royal courts. Retro Pugs came to North America via Europe.

Until the last century, Pugs looked like retro Pugs. In the 20th century, breeders started selecting for brachycephaly. This single-minded pursuit of that look meant that dogs were bred who had serious health problems.

The brachycephaly itself caused difficulties breathing, bulged eyes, and an inability to regulate their body temperature.

Some breeders in Germany decided something had to be done. By then, Pugs had an inbreeding coefficient of 45%. Dogs start having health problems when the inbreeding coefficient is around 5%.

In order to correct the breed health problems, the German breeders crossbred the Pugs with Jack Russell Terriers. This added new genes and reduced hereditary health problems.

A woman in Sweden has started a breed club and developed what she calls a retro Pug breed standard.

Retro Pugs Behavior and Personality

Retro Pugs combine the affectionate nature of Pugs with the loud, fearless behavior of Jack Russell.  In addition, they are more vocal than Pugs.  Retro Pugs are:

  • Intelligent – both parent breeds are intelligent, so they learn things quickly.
  • Loyal – they become very bonded to their family. If a family member is threatened, Pugs may become aggressive in defense of their people.
  • Loving – they suck up affection like a sponge, enjoy belly rubs and cuddles, and will let you know if you are not showing them enough affection
  • Attention-seeking – retro Pugs love to be the center of attention. They will let you know if you are not paying enough attention to them
  • Stubborn – retro Pugs can be quite stubborn and may refuse to do what you say.

Retro Pugs are happy little dogs.  As long as their needs for affection and exercise are met, they are not usually destructive.

They do not sleep as much as the standard Pug, because of the Jack Russell Terrier in them.

Retro Pugs Health and Nutrition Needs

While retro Pugs are generally healthier than standard Pugs, that doesn’t mean they are free of health problems.

Some retro Pugs still have fairly brachycephalic faces. When you cross two breeds of dog, you are never quite sure what you will get.

Here are five major health problems that retro Pugs may have:

  • Allergies
  • Hip and shoulder dysplasia
  • Skin cancer
  • Epilepsy
  • Dental problems

With allergies, retro Pugs may experience intense itchiness and skin lesions.

The itchiness may get worse when the dog walks on grass, inhales pollen, or is around dust mites.  Fleas can also cause an allergic reaction.

Some dogs are allergic to gluten and dairy, so you have to be very careful what dog food you feed them.

Sometimes, the dog is allergic to a specific animal protein, and must eat dog food made with something unusual, such as duck, to stay healthy.

Dysplasia is an abnormal joint, usually referring to the hip or shoulder.

It sets the dog up for painful arthritis.  Since it is genetic, no dog with dysplasia should be bred.

Dogs get skin cancer just like humans do.  Retro Pugs are at risk for squamous cell carcinomas and mast cell tumors.

Watch for new or growing moles and take your Pug to the veterinarian immediately if you find one.

These skin cancers become more problematic the older the dog becomes.

Epilepsy is usually inherited from the Jack Russell side of the family. The seizures usually start when the dog is a puppy.

Epilepsy can be controlled with medication and careful monitoring.

Even though retro Pugs have a longer snout, they still have dental problems.

The jaw is often too short to hold all the teeth a dog has.

You will need to brush your dog’s teeth or risk a buildup of tartar, gum disease, and cavities.

If your dog’s breath smells bad, you should have his teeth cleaned at the veterinarian.

Your retro Pug may have other health problems as well.

Regular visits to the veterinarian for a check-up are a good way to catch any health problem when it is still new and the most treatable.

Retro Pugs Exercise and Training

Pugs sleep a lot. Jack Russell Terriers are the opposite, they run and play a lot.

Your retro Pug will probably be in between these two extremes.

So, how do you exercise Retro Pugs?

A retro Pug will have more energy than a typical Pug, but not as much energy as a Jack Russell Terrier.

There is a saying among dog trainers: A tired dog is a good dog.

It is important that retro Pugs receive two or more walks a day to use up their energy.

When you crossbreed a dog, you are never quite sure what you will get.

Your dog may still have a very short snout.

When you take your dog for his first veterinarian visit, ask how much exercise the dog can tolerate.

Remember that when it is very hot or very cold, your pug will not be able to do as much exercise outside as when it is nice weather.

Playing fetch or other action games with your dog inside can give him the exercise he needs when the weather is bad.

What about training Retro Pugs?

Both Pugs and Jack Russell Terriers are smart, so your retro Pug will probably be smart, too.

Training can help occupy that bright mind, so they do not get bored and do something you won’t like.

Training should start when your dog comes to live with you.

Never punish your dog. You should use positive reinforcement instead.

  • When your dog does something right, reward him for doing what you told him to do.
  • When he does something wrong, ask him to do something right and then reward him.

The dog will soon learn he only gets a treat if he obeys you.

You will start from:

1. House training

Housetraining is the first thing you should be teaching your dog.

Small dogs can be difficult to housetrain.  Here are some things to make it easier:

  • Keep to a routine so the dog knows when he will get a walk or be let out.
  • Take your puppy out after waking up, after eating, after playtime, and before bed.
  • Take your dog to the same patch of your yard every time you take him out
  • Use a command such as “go potty” to signal that you want him to do so
  • Don’t play with him outside until after he has gone potty
  • If he doesn’t go potty, put him in his crate for ten minutes, then try again
  • Keep your puppy in the same room you are in and supervise him, so he won’t be as likely to have an accident.

2. Socializing retro Pugs

Find a puppy class to take your dog to. The retro Pugs learn to socialize well with other dogs.

They also start learning to sit, stay, down, come, and walk on a loose lead.

These manners make living with your retro Pug much more pleasant and can save his life if he starts to go out in the street.

3. Start crate training

Crate training is important.  Some people think crating a dog is cruel.  It isn’t.

A crate is the puppy’s refuge, where it can go when tired or through playing.

Dogs that are crated when their owners are not around cannot damage the house or items in it.  The crate became the dog’s home.

If you are traveling, the crate gives the dog a place to sleep that is familiar.

Also, you can place the crate in the car and strap it down so if you are in an accident, the dog doesn’t go flying and hurt himself or you.

Some crate training tips:

  • Use a command such as “crate” or “kennel,” then toss a treat your dog likes into the back of the crate.
  • When he goes into the crate, close the door for a few minutes, then let the dog out again.
  • Feed your dog his food in his crate.
  • Always have fresh water available to the dog.

When he starts to associate the crate with treats and food, he will want to be there.

At this stage, do not leave your puppy in the crate for more than three or so hours at a time.

As he gets older, he can hold his bladder longer and you can leave him in it while you are away at work.

Even puppies can usually sleep through the night in a crate.

[su_note note_color=”#fef5c4″ text_color=”#333333″ radius=”5″]Choose a right crate for the Retro Pugs

When purchasing a crate, you need to get one that is big enough for an adult retro Pug to go in, turn around, and lay down in.

If the crate is too big, your dog will pee in the front of the crate and lay in the back.

Get a crate with solid sides and window vents covered with wire. Wire crates can make a dog feel trapped and vulnerable. [/su_note]

For example, Life Stages Folding Crate provides your pooch a safe space that you can use in your home, during traveling, or anywhere that fits.

Grooming of Retro Pugs

It is important to groom your dog frequently.

Not only does proper grooming make your dog happier, but it is also necessary for his health.

It also gives you one-on-one time with your dog.

Grooming is much more than just brushing and bathing your dog.

It is a chance to feel all over your dog and to see if new lumps, bumps, or moles have developed.

The sooner you find them, the sooner your veterinarian can treat them.

To groom your Pug:

  • Brush the coat every 1-3 days with a soft bristle brush
  • Bathe the dog once or twice a month in a shampoo meant for sensitive skinned dogs
  • Gently clean the wrinkles and folds of your Pug daily
  • Clean the retro Pug’s eyes daily
  • Clean the ear flaps several times a week
  • Clean your retro Pug’s nostrils every 2 to 3 weeks
  • Clean ear canals every six weeks
  • Clip your Dog’s nails every six weeks
  • Clean their paws every day and check for any problems


1. How Much Does A Retro Pug Cost?

The cost of a retro Pug varies depending on where you are.  In the United States, retro Pugs cost between $800-$1500.

The price will also depend on the physical features of the dog. Long nose Pugs are more expensive than retro Pugs with short snouts.

Remember that the purchase price is only the start of your dog’s expenses.

You also have to buy food, get them their shots, have them spayed or neutered, and buy grooming tools and a crate.

2. Does the Retro Pug Make A Good Family Pet?

Yes, with proper socialization, retro Pugs make good pets.  Remember that children should always be supervised when playing with a dog.

That means you can stop the child from pulling on ears or tail, or otherwise doing things that make the dog uncomfortable.  The dog may snap if a child hurts him.

Is a Retro Pug Right for You?

The retro Pug is very similar to a standard Pug. If you are interested in longer snout Pugs, they could be a great fit.

I hope you’ve got the details about a Retro Pug in this guide, see you in the next article.